The Rise And Fall Of Emo: Why You Shouldn’t Be Ashamed For Liking Emo Music

While the genre' been wounded, it isn't dead.

By Peter Hoare

Ah, emo — perhaps the most polarizing word in all of rock n’ roll.

While the instances in which we now hear the word are few and far between, 10 years ago, emo was, quite simply, massive. It was an odd time in the music world: In the wake of the new millennium, the nookie-fueled flame that was nu metal had rapidly begun to lose its flicker and its cool factor. Radiohead was starting to shift toward a more experimental sound, losing some mainstream melody in the process. Creed was, well, Creed. And while gargantuan rock mainstays like Foo Fighters, Blink 182 and Green Day were of course enjoying continued success, suburbia demanded something new.

Enter emo.

In the early- to mid-2000s, high school students all over the country began embracing new bands, a new style and a new sound, spreading emo’s popularity like a virus. In the ’90s, the unabashed angst of grunge once helped to define a generation. And whether rock purists care to admit it, to an extent, the same could be said for emo, which largely embraced the ever-relatable notion of youthful heartache as opposed to disenfranchised revolution.

We started to see mainstream emo at the start of the millennium with Dashboard Confessional’s The Swiss Army Romance in 2000. That same year, Vagrant Records put out Designing a Nervous Breakdown, the incredible debut full-length record from Lawrence, Kansas’ The Anniversary. Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American came out in 2001, along with Brand New’s debut Your Favorite Weapon and Saves The Day’s Billboard-charting Stay What You Are.

From 2002’s Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends to 2004’s My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, emo took on many popular forms.

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